The Fetus is the Parent of the Child

As summer winds down and the seasons begin to change again, a new child will enter this world in the next few weeks.  My office manager will give birth soon, and while we may consider the notion that knowledge and ideas begin the day we are born, research has proposed that even in the womb, a developing fetus is learning things that will affect his/her own future and parents as well.  Most healthcare clinicians, and even the general public, understand how prenatal exposure to chemicals such as alcohol, nicotine and drugs will negatively affect the developing fetus.  See the article in Pediatrics.

Ice Ice Baby

Unless you have been living under a glacier recently, you likely have seen, read or heard about someone who has done the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  It was a simple request started in New England in July 2014 by Pete Frates, the former captain of the Boston College Eagles baseball team in 2007: dump some ice water on your head or donate $100 to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  Pete was diagnosed with ALS in 2012 at the young age of 27, and his “ice bucket challenge” to friends and family was a way to help increase awareness and advocacy.

Family Physician to the Bereaved

As the unfortunate events unfolded in Ferguson, Missouri, over the past 10 days after a police officer shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9, much of the controversy centered on the lack of transparency of the investigation as to the events of the shooting.  The St. Louis County medical examiner had not released the results of the original autopsy as of August 17, which is the date when the Brown family’s privately hired forensic pathologist, Dr. Michael Baden, released details of his examination.  Dr. Baden was the former chief medical examiner for New York City and had examined the autopsy results of President John F. Kennedy and the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.  Dr. Baden felt that his results showed that the unarmed Michael Brown was shot four times in the right arm and twice in the head.

Carpe Diem

As many of us reflect on the recent death of Robin Williams, the gifted comedian, actor, husband and father of three, much of the focus in the media this week has been on the issues of depression, substance abuse, addiction and suicide.  It was refreshing to hear some of the commentators talk about depression as a “brain disease” and not use the term “mental illness” as much as might be expected.

The Right to Bear Arms, Part 2

On June 2, 2011, Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law House Bill 155, The Privacy of Firearms Owners Act, which in the state of Florida would, according to the National Rifle Association, “stop pediatricians from invading privacy rights of gun owners and bringing anti-gun politics into medical examining rooms.”  The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Florida Pediatric Society urged Gov. Scott to veto HB 155 to no avail. The penalty for asking a patient about gun ownership? A $500 fine and loss of medical licensure.

The Right to Bear Arms

It is one experience to talk about Second Amendment rights, mental health issues and gun ownership.  It is another experience completely to hold for the first time a loaded gun, a Taurus .357-magnum with six bullets and no safety lock, in your father’s home, knowing that in the middle of the night your father, who has dementia, might mistake his wife getting up to feed the dog as an intruder, and then the problems really begin.  I had this experience two weeks ago, and as physicians, we know that we have, hopefully, been trained to make the right decision in tough situations.  Making that correct decision is often much tougher than expected.

Not Alone

Now that the summer is in full swing, one of the classic phases of parenting begins for those whose children are entering senior year of high school: the college application discussion and visits.  This summer may be slightly different, however, due to a report released earlier this year by the White House that addressed head-on the issue of college sexual assault

The House of God, Part II

For anyone interested in medicine beginning in the late 1970s, the book The House of God, by Dr. Stephen Bergman (aka Samuel Shem, MD,) was often recommended (or reviled) by those who were in the field as a sort of rite of passage to provide some idea of what a career in medicine might be like (before the Libby Zion case) with the caveat that it was fiction.  Four decades later, the book still provokes questions and discussions for many.

A Dream Dies To Save a Life

On June 26, 2014, the National Basketball Association Draft will take place in Brooklyn, N.Y.  One of the top picks expected in the first round, Noah Vonleh, was a star player at New Hampton School (N.H.) from 2011 to 2013 and was my oldest son’s teammate before playing for the University of Indiana last year.

We Have the Technology

On March 7, 1973, when I was 9 years old, the medical future came into my living room in Brooklyn, N.Y., via a 25-inch Zenith color television.  On that night, Steve Austin, a civilian astronaut, crashed in a test flight accident and lost his right arm, left eye and both legs.  Luckily for Colonel Austin, a Vietnam veteran who had walked on the moon, he was able to be “rebuilt” with artificial legs that allowed him to run at 60 mph, a prosthetic arm that could lift 150 pounds (and had a Geiger counter for radiation detection) and a bionic eye, complete with a 20:1 zoom lens and infrared capabilities, thanks to the generosity of the American Broadcasting Company.  Total cost?  6 million dollars.

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